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A Japanese sushi boss paid more than US$117,000 Tuesday (Jan 5) for a giant bluefin tuna as
Tokyo's Tsukiji fish market held its last New Year auction ahead of a much-needed modernisation
Bidding stopped at a whopping 14 million yen for the enormous 200-kilogramme fish, an endangered
species, that was caught off Japan's northern coast.
The price was three times higher than last year but still far below a record 155.4 million
yen paid in 2013, when a Hong Kong restaurant chain weighed in, for a slightly larger fish
of similar quality.
The New Year auction is a traditional feature at Tsukiji, where bidders pay way over the
odds for the prestige of buying the first fish of the year.
But it came as Japan, the world's largest consumer of bluefin tuna, faces growing calls
for a trade ban on the species, which environmentalists warn is on its way to extinction.
The population of Pacific bluefin tuna is set to keep declining "even if governments
ensure existing management measures are fully implemented," Amanda Nickson, director of
Global Tuna Conservation at the Pew Charitable Trusts, said in a release.
Bluefin is usually the most expensive fish available at Tsukiji, the biggest fish and
wholesale seafood market in the world.
A single piece of "otoro", or the fish's fatty underbelly, can cost up to several thousand
yen at high-end Tokyo restaurants.
The growing popularity of Japanese sushi worldwide has stoked demand elsewhere.
"Given the already dire state of the population, decimated to just four percent of unfished
levels, it is of particular concern that the auction price is rising again," Nickson of
Pew Charitable Trusts added.
"The international community must let the Japanese government know that additional action
is needed to save this species."
Tuesday's auction winner, Kiyoshi Kimura, president of the firm behind the popular Sushi-Zanmai
restaurant chain, said he was "glad to make a winning bid in the last New Year auction
at Tsukiji."
Tsukiji, a sprawling complex of tiny stalls and wholesalers popular with tourists, will
end its eight-decade history this year when it is relocated to a modern facility in Toyosu,
a few kilometres away.
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Japan sushi boss pays more than US$117,000 for endangered giant bluefin tuna at Tsukiji fish market

75 Folder Collection
Shinichiro published on November 26, 2019
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